Elsa & Jonathan's paleo-riffic literary wedding

March 28 |

Snarkbat wrote a while back about the challenging the wedding industry's assumptions… and here she is proving her point with her wedding!

Practice Kiss
Photos by Milestone Images and Stephanie Jones Photography

The offbeat bride: Elsa, rogue burlesque scholar

Her offbeat partner: Jonathan, attorney

Date and location of wedding: The Newark Museum, Newark, NJ — April 28, 2012

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We got married in a museum because I wanted to be married somewhere that meant something, like a house of knowledge. The Newark Museum was great, because not only was it a museum, but Jon had grown up going there with his grandmother, AND it had a garden with the name "Ransom" it in, which is both my father's Drag Queen last name, and my stage name last name.

Spin!
Photo by Milestone Images

I wore a purple dress, because every time I tried on a white one I just looked pale and sad. And in the Victorian tradition, I wanted to wear my best dress. And it really was, because now I have a dress I can wear to all sorts of fancy occasions which also happens to have been my wedding dress. It's nice to be able to have such affection for something in my wardrobe.

Photos by Don Spiro
Photos by Don Spiro

We had dinosaurs as the altar for our ceremony, complete with a T-Rex skull facing down the center aisle. So obviously, in my 1940s dress with my sonic screwdriver and Sherlock Holmes bouquet, I walked down the aisle to the Jurassic Park Theme.

Photos by Milestone Images
Photos by Milestone Images
Find Your Library Card!
Photo by Stephanie Jones Photography

Our table numbers were various Dewey Decimal numbers, each one set on top of books themed for that decimal system. The "Prohibited Works" table for the burlesque dancers had various books about burlesque and obscenity law. "The Education of Women" table had Miss Manners on it.

We had very specific music selections. We wanted music that made us want to dance, so it was all swing, jazz, '50s sock hop-type stuff. Our DJ has known me since I was a baby, so he knew what I liked and what I wanted to do with it.

Handfasting
Photo by Stephanie Jones Photography
Tell us about the ceremony: We had a two-part, two-officiant ceremony. The first half of our ceremony was a handfasting in the Druid tradition and our officiant was one of my best friends. We were blessed with five cords and in the name of the Goddess, and then we read our personal vows to one another. Our vows:

Jonathan: I will see when you cannot see, I will hear when you cannot hear… and I vow to try to not walk you into traffic.
Elsa: I take you as my perfect guide dog. Let's go meet the dinosaurs and the world together hand-in-hand, forever.

Then we had three readers: my friend Philip read a John Donne sonnet, Jon's friend Kyle read an excerpt from the Proposition 8 decision by Judge Walker, and Jon's grandmother threw the script out the window and gave a toast in the middle of our wedding ceremony.

Smashing the Glass
Photo by Stephanie Jones Photography

The judge who took over for the second part of the ceremony was the judge Jonathan clerked for when he first started lawyering. We broke champagne glasses in the grand Jewish tradition of breaking stuff for profit and endless love (since Jon's family is semi-Jewish). I broke mine with my cane, he broke his with his foot.

Down the Aisle
Photo by Stephanie Jones Photography

Our biggest challenge: One of the biggest challenges I faced was being a visually impaired bride. Visual stuff is not really my best suit, even though I'm a photographer. So instead of hand-making some things, I had to pay for them. I carried my cane at both the ceremony and the reception. I walked down the aisle by myself because I feel like I get help so often from others, and this was one thing I wanted to do by myself.

Bouquet and Cane
The "steamcane" and the Sonic Screwdriver bouquet! Photo by Milestone Images

I also had to deal with the fact that a lot of my breaking of tradition had to do with who I am and how well I see. My dress was purple because I can't see detail on white dresses, and because I don't look good in them. My veil almost wasn't purple, until my mother discovered some 1960s birdcage veiling in lavender in our attic.

We put notes in the program to remind people not to sneak up on me, and not to take flash photography. That rule was particularly challenging for our photographers, Milestone ImagesThey ♥ OBB; we ♥ them and Stephanie Jones. I was really glad that they were as sensitive as they were to it.

Mom fixes Veil
Mom fixes everything. Photo by Stephanie Jones Photography

My favorite moment: Having my mother do my hair and makeup (and make my veil!) was really important to me. She has done my makeup for every single important event that we've ever been to together. And since she's my only parent, it was nice to have some things that were just about us.

Bride & Maid of Honor
Photo by Milestone Images

My maid of honor flew out and stayed with me the week before the wedding. She did things like stop me from falling asleep in the middle of the street. When I started to cry right before walking down the aisle, she told me to buck up, because my father was here with me in spirit.

Toasting the Bride and Groom
Photo by Stephanie Jones Photography

My funniest moment: I stopped a plane from flying overhead. During our ceremony, just as we went from the religious portion of the ceremony to the non-religious portion, a plane started to fly over the tent. I just looked up and shouted "Really? You're going to fly over my wedding ceremony? Really?" Then the plane noises just stopped. I got a round of applause.

Also, my left foot fell asleep during the ceremony because of my father's AA chip, which I had used as my sixpence in my shoe. If you're standing for your entire ceremony, you may want to reconsider things in your shoes. Part of our yichud involved taking my shoes off and getting a foot massage.

Program
Photo by Stephanie Jones Photography

Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great?
There was a fiasco with the tent. About six months after we booked the museum, we got a phone call from our venue coordinator telling us that we were going to have a giant tent on the lawn for our wedding day and there was nothing we could do about it. We thought we were going to have to change our wedding date, and the save the dates had already gone out!

Raptor Cufflinks
Photo by Milestone Images

We went to the museum to see just how big this tent really was. It was big. In fact, it was the size of the whole garden. Jon finally asks why the tent was there.
It turned out that the tent was for their annual Dinosaur Day. DINOSAUR DAY. And that is how we got to have dinosaur fossils at our wedding!

Hora
Photo by Milestone Images

My advice for offbeat brides: Use backups for everything. Disaster was averted because I'd put all the music for the reception on my iPod as well as on CDs. It turned out that our equipment for the music was not compatible with the kind of burned CDs we had, so it was great to have it in another format.

Bachelor Party Finale
The burlesque bachelor party! Photo by Linus Gelber

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? I learned how to say "no." Nicely. Lots of people had opinions and ideas, and wanted to get involved, but not all of them fit, or made sense to me.

I also learned that I'm good at organizing events and people. I was shocked how much planning a wedding was like producing a show (and in the case of producing my husband's bachelor party as a wedding present, it was exactly that!).

End of Wedding Group Hug
Photo by Milestone Images

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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They ♥ OBB; we ♥ themThis post features Offbeat Vendors! Check out their vendor listing to see how they cater to Offbeat Brides:
  1. I've lurked and follower Snarkbat on the tribe and have been anticipating the write up! It was an even more beautiful day than I was expecting!

    You look absolutely STUNNING coming down the aisle!

    15 agree
  2. Yah, Snarkbat's wedding is finally up!

    I love it, the dress, the veil, the cane, everything!!!!

    I too have been following her as well, yes you have an obb stalker, I'm mostly harmless I assure you :P

    I wish you all the best,

    Sid
    xoxo

    3 agree
  3. I've been waiting for a write up of this wedding ever since I saw the write up about the steampunk cane! This looks like it was a fun, fantastic day. The knowledge, retro vibes, science, and fun radiate all over the place. Speaking of radiate? YOU, my dear bride, wow. Purple is your color. You GLOW girl!

    6 agree
  4. Elsa, you look absolutely FIERCE coming down that aisle! Congratulations and much happiness to you and your hubby!

    5 agree
    • FIERCE is definitely the word! I was thinking you totally look like a supermodel strutting down that aisle!

      7 agree
  5. Wow! Your wedding looks like a buttload of fun, and that purple dress is amazing.

    2 agree
  6. I am in LOVE with your bouquet. Sherlock Holmes page roses and the Sonic Screwdriver – be still my heart!

    3 agree
  7. everything was amazing, but THOSE CUFFLINKS!!

    1 agrees
  8. Oh this is great!
    Elsa, you looked beautiful!! and I love that picture of someone wiping their eyes as you pass them.

    I was following along on the Tribe while she was planning too and it all turned out AMAZING! Congratulations.

    2 agree
    • There's a photo (which I didn't post, not enough photo space) of my mother covering her ENTIRE FACE with a hanky because she'd been crying through the ceremony. It makes me tear up every time I see it.

      2 agree
  9. What was the Prop 8 reading? I've been looking for non-secular readings for my own ceremony, and this sounds like exactly what I've been looking for!

    1 agrees
    • I'd be happy to email it to you, it's a bit long. Shoot me an email through the contact form on my site and I'll hook you up with the legal goodness!

      1 agrees
  10. Love your wedding, especially your purple dress! Where did you get your bouquet? I want something similar and I'm trying to decide if I should buy or DIY.

    1 agrees
  11. Hi, same Lisa from the previous comment but I mistyped my email address and the delete feature wasn't working…

    Love your wedding, especially your purple dress! Where did you get your bouquet?

    1 agrees
    • Bookworm Eats Flower! She's sadly not taking custom requests at the moment – so depends on when your is wedding, I suppose?

      1 agrees
      • Did the bouquet come with the sonic screwdriver or did you make that part yourself?

        0 agree
  12. That photo of you walking down the aisle is AMAZING. So beautiful. Almost a bit spooky with the white eye, I hope you're not taking this as an offence, because it is really meant to be a compliment from a goth girl like me, spooky yet very feminine, self confident, elegant with the dress and the cane and all and really beautiful. your pale face with the red lipstick is like porcelain. pretty.

    1 agrees
  13. Elsa, you are gorgeous and powerful and I have LOVED reading this so much. Made me cry. I wonder if I might react that way when it's my turn to walk down the aisle in a few more weeks. Love you, girl. Gorgeous photos and story.

    2 agree
    • Lots of love to you too! Can't WAIT to see your photos! Let's snag a drink or some tea once your wedding madness is over! And your comment is now making ME tear up. Dangit.

      0 agree
  14. SNarkbAT- WORD! ZomG I am so psyched to see yuour wedding. And I have to agree, your entrance is out-fucking-standing! And that dress and that venue and that groom! ROCK ON! Okay, I'm totally beyond over-stimulated. Let's just stop at Magnificent.
    P.S. So. Awesome.

    0 agree
  15. Oh my gosh, that photo of you sauntering down the aisle is just amazing. I was reading the part about your being visually impaired at the time – so using your cane – and thought 'really? I thought she was just working it!'. Seriously, hun, you look so amazing.

    And f'in dinosaurs <3

    1 agrees
  16. Everything about this wedding is making me ridiculously happy. Dinos, Doctor Who and Sherlock! A babelicious bride! I can't even begin to tell you how awesome reading this is, I can only imagine what it was like to actually be there!!

    1 agrees
  17. I loved your post about challenging bridal assumptions, and I'm so glad your wedding was featured! From Sherlock Holmes to Doctor Who to dinosaurs and purple, you've thrown all of my favorite things and my partner's favorite things into one wedding! Absolutely stunning!

    Between your earlier post, the burlesque bachelor party, how amazing your wedding must have been, and the horah, you're pretty much my hero.

    As a side note, I feel like a post about the burlesque bachelor party would be pretty badass if you feel like writing one.

    1 agrees
    • I forgot to mention it in the profile, but they had to tie me to the chair because my balance is pretty terrible.

      Thank you so much for all the warm fuzzies. And if they want me to write a post, I'd certainly be willing to consider it, that was a whole adventure unto itself the bachelor party was!

      1 agrees
  18. That was phenomenal, I love how you turned a problem into a blessing with the tent. Congratulations!!!

    Where DID you find those garters???

    1 agrees
  19. SNARKBAT! I've admired you from afar ever since your earlier post (along with half the Internet, apparently!) and am SO glad to see not only the badass steampunk cane but everything else that went with it – the dress, the bouquet, the bookish fossily fabulousness of everything…and most important, the LOVE. I'm all verklempt and very very happy for you! Best wishes, long life, mazel tov!

    1 agrees
  20. Wow your wedding is awesome!!!!! Sherlock Holmes, Purple, Dinosaurs!!! :-) :-)

    1 agrees
  21. Great post i must say and thanks for the information. Education is definitely a sticky subject. However, is still among the leading topics of our time. I appreciate your post and look forward to more.

    1 agrees
  22. Oh my gosh, that photo of you sauntering down the aisle is just amazing. I was reading the part about your being visually impaired at the time – so using your cane – and thought 'really? I thought she was just working it!

    0 agree
  23. I just recently stumbled upon this, so I'm behind the curve, but DAMN! I love everything about this wedding.

    I actually found this through the other mini article Elsa wrote about her experience in challenging the wedding industry. I thought that was great and saw the link to this. I love all the little details that made this unique to the couple, off the beaten path and delightfully "nerdy".
    For someone who will probably never get married, if I were, I'd like it to be much like this.

    You sound like an amazing person.

    1 agrees
  24. What a GREAT and inspiring story…for any bride…looking to just be themselves when it comes to their wedding!!! I wish I would have been your DJ! What a wonderful day it seems you had…and knowing Stephanie Jones was your photographer, you no doubt have AMAZING pictures to remember your day!
    Kudos to you!!
    Oh…and LOVE the dress and shoes!!! :-)

    0 agree

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